Today, I'm kicking off Heather Justesen's blog tour for her new book, The Ball's in Her Court, with an interview. Many of you know I've already reviewed her book. You can read my review here.
The thing I love most about this interview with Heather, is that she really opens up about her experiences as a foster parent and the relationships with the children she helped raise - which is what prompted her to write Denise's story. Some of you may not know that November is Adoption Awareness Month. I'm so glad I can share Heather's experiences and love for these amazing kids with you!
QOTC -Was this story difficult for you to write?
Heather - It was difficult to get right--to be sure that the emotions and events stayed realistic, but the story itself was really pretty easy compared to some plots I've worked on because I loved Denise so much, and I cared about her situation. Making everyone else react realistically was a lot harder!
QOTC -As a foster mom, what was your greatest hope for the children you helped raise?
Heather - With one exception, the kids all came from very difficult situations, though every situation was different --even within the same sibling group sometimes. My biggest wish is for them all to be happy. I just want them to get decent jobs that they like, find a loving spouse and to reach their dreams--whatever they may be. I thrill with their successes and sorrow for their pain.
QOTC -What is it like now, to have your foster children grown and gone? Do you still keep in touch with them?
Heather - Bill and I joke that we're empty nesters, and with one foster child having a child of his own, and two more due in the next few months, we tease that we're like a twisted kind of grandparents--which we're FAR too young to be!
I was really excited the day I tracked down two of the kids through Facebook because we'd been out of touch for several years. Just knowing they were doing well was such a relief and I've loved having a chance to share in their joys and struggles again. I still wonder about the others and hope they are well and happy, though I've slowly found a few more of them. I wonder about all of them often.
QOTC -I know November is National Adoption Month. If you could put in one plug for foster care and adoption, what would it be?
Heather - Yeah, foster parenting is hard--parenting is hard regardless of the situation. Though we definitely had our struggles, and we made our share of mistakes (I haven't met a single parent who didn't have regrets), I grew to love every one of those kids--even the ones who gave me the most grief. I can honestly say that my life was blessed by every one of the kids who stayed with us.
QOTC -Now I'd like to change topics, and talk about your next book that's coming out summer of 2010. Can you give us a little teaser?
Heather - Well, in the first book Denise's roommate Lily ends up marrying a man we don't like very much--with good reason. This story shows us what happens to her later when her marriage falls apart and she has to start again with two young children.
QOTC -Why did you choose to tell this story next?
Heather - It was next in the series. =) Actually, this is another story I worked on various versions for. I'd say The Ball's in Her Court had at least twenty edits with multiple significant rewrites, and Lily's story, tentatively titled Rebound, has been through close to fifteen--though several of those were me still trying to figure out what the story was and reinventing the main conflicts until I found the right fit. This was before I learned that outlining was my friend. I also really loved the characters from the first book--I had actually intended for the first book to cover both Denise and Lily's stories, but Denise's kind of took over, so I had to write a separate one for Lily.
QOTC -What do you hope your readers will discover as they read your books?
Heather - Well, first off, I hope they're well entertained because that's my first goal regardless of anything more that might result. Secondly, I want to promote understanding, and the importance of families. Family relationships seems to be a theme that runs through several of my books, though it was totally unintentional. There's nothing more important out there than our families--however they're made, or whatever they may look like.
QOTC -Any last thoughts you'd like to share with your readers?
Heather - Any goal worth making is worth the effort to see through to the end. If you're serious about it, you'll reach it. The fact that this book is in print proves it--go reach your dream!
Thank you for answering all my questions, Heather! Good luck with your book. I'm very excited for your future releases!
Anyone who would like to purchase The Ball's in Her Court, can do so here.